Oyster Pan Roast
Oyster Pan Roast is at the top of our favorite ways to prepare oysters in those chilly months with an “r” when they’re at their salty best. It’s hearty enough to serve as a main dish—perhaps with an added salad—and oh-so-satisfying to oyster lovers. After the oysters have been eaten, the slice of toasted French bread is used to sop up the rich sauce remaining in the dish, and is almost as good as the oysters themselves! The wine pairing matches the mild intensity of the oysters while wielding natural acidity that cuts through the fat and exposes still more of the oyster flavor. Arché Winery Roussanne is a match made in heaven (with lots of help at the winery in Saint Jo, using Texas High Plains grapes). It offers floral notes that float over the dish and stone fruit characteristics balanced with crisp acidity, smooth mouth feel with a lingering finish.
For the oysters:
36 shucked Gulf oysters and their liquor
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt, to taste
¼ cup unsalted butter
2 large shallots, finely chopped
4 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
½ teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1½ quarts whipping cream blended with the liquor from the oysters
2 tablespoons Pernod, or other anise-based liqueur
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt, to taste
For the toast garnish:
6 slices French bread, cut on the bias, 1-inch thick
Melted unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Arrange 6 individual gratin dishes on baking sheets; set aside. Drain the oysters in a fine-mesh strainer, capturing the liquor in a bowl below, and set both aside. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and toss to blend well. Season to taste with salt and set aside. Melt the additional 4 tablespoons of butter in a heavy-bottomed, deep-sided 12-inch skillet over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the shallots, green onions, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the shallots and green onions are wilted and transparent— about 7 minutes. Add the whipping cream, oyster liquor mixture, Pernod and Worcestershire. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture reduces and thickens— about 10 minutes. Add salt, to taste.
While the sauce is reducing, place 6 of the oysters in each of the gratin dishes and make the toast garnish. Butter one side of each French bread slice and lightly salt. Toast the bread slices under the broiler until light golden brown and crisp. Pour a portion of the sauce over the oysters in each dish and top with a scattering of the bread crumb-Parmesan mixture—covering the entire surface of the dish. Place the baking sheets in the preheated oven and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or just until the oysters begin to curl at the edges and the topping is browned and bubbly. Do not overcook—the dishes should still be quite liquidy. Remove from the oven and place a toasted bread slice on top of each gratin dish. Place the gratin dishes on plates and serve hot.
TERRY THOMPSON-ANDERSON is a professional chef, cookbook author, culinary instructor and restaurant consultant. She has written five cookbooks and numerous articles for various publications. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, The Southern Foodways Alliance and Les Dames d’Escoffier, International.